Tablet News From Apple, HP, Samsung: Forrester's Take

As September closes and the holiday shopping season approaches, we expect near-daily developments in the burgeoning tablet market, and this week didn't disappoint. Here's our take on the headlines that caught our eye this week:

What's news: Apple's iPad Contributes To Highest Customer Satisfaction Score Ever From ACSI

If you're not familiar with the ACSI, it's an extremely reputable organization that tracks customer satisfaction across 225 companies in 45 industries. This year, Apple got the highest scores ever for its PCs, which included the iPad. Forrester's take: This is a big deal because, as Forrester's data shows, not everyone buying an iPad is an Apple loyalist. iPad owners and intended buyers are three times as likely as US online consumers in general to own a Mac (27% versus 8%, respectively), but still, three-quarters of them don't own a Mac. Similarly, iPad owners and intended buyers are nearly three times as likely as US online consumers in general to own an iPhone as their primary mobile phone (17% versus 6%, respectively)--which means that 83% of them don't own an iPhone. Given that not all iPad buyers are Apple loyalists, the fact that the iPad is delighting its owners is very good news for Apple and very bad news for Apple's competitors. Word of mouth, already spreading like wildfire about the iPad (as of June, three months ago, only 5% of US online consumers had never heard of the iPad, according to Forrester's data), will continue to grow, and Apple's first-mover advantage in the tablet market will loom ever larger. Think about it: If you buy an iPad, and buy apps, the likelihood of you switching to a Samsung or Sony or HP tablet in a few years is very low -- unless something happens to make apps interoperable, you will lose your (likely sizable) content investment. And Apple has the opportunity to wed the customer to its devices and content for a long, long time.

What's news: HP Announces $400 Printer With 7-inch Detachable Android 2.1 Tablet 

As Gizmodo and others reported, this is a value-add for a printer, not a pitch to buy a standalone Android tablet. For one thing, it doesn't connect to Android Market, but it comes pre-installed with apps you're likely to use for printing. Forrester's take: This is a missed opportunity for HP to increase awareness and usage of WebOS. If WebOS isn't ready for tablets, it's better to wait until the experience is right. In the meantime, though, launching an Android device dilutes the attention HP should lavish on WebOS. For HP to make the most of its Palm investment -- and to have a shot at competing in the tablet market -- it needs to make sure its left hand is talking to its right hand. HP needs to have the printer unit (IPG) and personal systems group (PSG) working together to give WebOS the scale HP promised in its Palm acquisition.

What's news: Samsung Announces GALAXY Tab Distribution With AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, And T-Mobile

Unless you've been under a rock, you've undoubtedly heard about the 7-inch Android 2.2 tablet from Samsung, which will be distributed by major mobile carriers and will get content from Samsung's soon-to-be-released Media Hub. But there's no release date, and no price, that's been announced. Forrester's take: We haven't tested the GALAXY Tab yet, so we'll reserve full judgment until we do. But we're intrigued by the 7-inch size and whatever the Media Hub will be. However, even assuming that the device delivers the best possible experience, we don't think it will compete with iPad this holiday season. It will, however, lend legitimacy to tablets as a category beyond just iPad: Even though consumers won't buy them in large numbers, they'll start to think, oh yeah, there are other tablets out there beside the iPad. (Currently, only 10% of US online consumers say they've heard of tablets other than the iPad, and then they name devices like BlackBerry and iPhone, confusion which we detected in a Forrester survey in June.) Within 2-3 years, we think Android tablets collectively could surpass the iPad in sales. But we don't expect any single Android competitor to stand up 1:1 against the iPad. When I test the GALAXY Tab, I'll let you know if it persuades me otherwise.